[opendtv] Re: Is 'Fair Use' in Peril?

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 10:08:51 -0500

At 12:39 PM -0500 11/29/04, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
>Well, there is the other side to consider. If
>commercials cannot work, then the public will be
>forced to pay more out of pocket for something that's
>been "free" as long as TV has existed. So that is not
>necessarily in the public's best interest either.


We've been through this before. TV has NEVER been free.

The price we pay for "free TV" is embedded in the cost of the 
products that are advertised.

So the real issue here is not whether we may be force to pay more out 
of pocket - which at least 85% of us are already doing - but whether 
we must pay twice to watch programming that is filled with 
commercials.  I am growing very tired of paying ~$45/month for a 
bunch of broadcast and cable channels that are all filled with ads.

Could I spend that $45 to pay directly for commercial free programming?

It could happen.

>Even for those who have made themselves dependent on
>a multichannel provider, higher monthly fees can be
>expected, if commercials don't work.

But commercials DO work. We would not be barraged with them if they 
did not. The truth is that a huge percentage of TV viewing is just a 
"background task," while we are doing other things. This means that 
we are not taking an active role in watching the program, skipping 
commercials, etc.

What is far more likely to happen is the development of alternative 
forms of payment for content, including new forms of opt in ads that 
are more targeted, and thus more valuable to advertisers.

The real issue is not the ads, but their relevance to the viewer. 
Shot-gun advertising rarely hits real targets.

>But there's a simple enough compromise. Just let
>recorders fast forward through commercials, but not
>just automatically skip over them. With disk type
>recorders especially, FF still shows the commercial
>enough to see the product name and to slow down
>playback if the commercial seems interesting. Which I
>do often enough.

This is in essence what they do now. The only enhancement to this 
with Tivo is that you can press a button that fast forwards in 30 
second increments. I do not know of any PVR that automatically skips 
commercials, but it is possible that someone has done this.

>The FF speed has to be fast enough to make it worth
>while, though, so that mean maybe 8X or 16X. That
>still shows enough frames to see what's going on.

With digital you can do this in many ways. Better yet, you can 
provide a parade of still frames, which may actually work as well as 
the real ad, since you get the major brand impression even while in 

>Seems obvious that you can't simply yank away the
>revenue source for broadcasters. And forcing everyone
>to become pregnant with a multichannel provider is no
>solution either. Some might think *that's* being
>"controlled by special interests." I certainly would,
>if that were the "solution" Congress comes up with.

It seems that ad revenues manage to remain static or grow, despite 
the fact that a huge chunk of the audience is gone. Go figure...

Perhaps the more important issue for the future will be the ability 
to bypass ALL of the existing TV services. IP TV could have a much 
bigger impact on commercial advertising than Tivo. And I would not 
discount the trend toward releasing episodic television (without 
commercials) on DVDs.

You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: